Position statement on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on availability of clinical radiology in Australia

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Updated 7 May 2020

Australia is facing one of our toughest tests in history. Clinical radiology is facing major challenges playing its role, during this public health crisis. RANZCR’s role is to ensure that Australians all have timely and appropriate access to clinical radiology services. The viability of individual businesses is neither the concern nor mandate for RANZCR. However, the sustainability of private radiology practices and overall access to public clinical radiology services are inextricably linked: private radiology practices form the backbone of outpatient service provision, protecting the public health system from overload. In addition, many radiology services in critically located public hospitals are outsourced to private radiology providers.

In these unique times the biggest threat to ongoing patient access is availability of radiology services. The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly and severely affected private and community-based radiology services throughout Australia, many diagnostic and interventional practices may cease to exist. Unaddressed, the loss of community-based practices is likely to disrupt and diminish the quality and availability of healthcare: this will be magnified in rural and remote areas where there may be only one practice. It is crucial these services are resourced and supported to maintain service provision in the short term and to ensure the radiology sector can continue to provide these essential services now, and in the years ahead.